Chippewa artist inspired by Idle No More opens storefront in Toronto

Chippewar Nation, located on Queen Street West, is a storefront and studio space where Jay Soule creates and sells his art and clothing line of politically-charged pop art with an Indigenous twist.

Jay Soule creates silkscreen-printed clothing with politically-charged pop art

Jay Soule, also known as Chippewar, has opened a studio storefront in Toronto where he sells his line of clothing and politically-charged pop art made Indigenous. (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC)

Multimedia artist Jay Soule, who uses the pseudonym Chippewar, has just opened a store front, studio and tattoo parlour all in one in Toronto.

The shop, Chippewar Nation on Queen Street West, is lined with Soule's paintings as well as silkscreen-printed clothing that re-purposes the images from his paintings.

Soule has been working on the Chippewar line of clothing and art for five years and says he was inspired by Idle No More.

"I was going through some major depression right around that same time and I started reevaluating my life a little about what I was doing with my artwork and my businesses," says Soule.

Soule created the 'not so funny money' sticker project this past summer when the topic of problematic political monuments was being debated in both Canada and the United States. (Chippewar)

Soule is from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, but he didn't grow up in his community because he was adopted and raised in a non-Indigenous family.

As Idle No More was unfolding, the Assembly of First Nations elections were being broadcast on CPAC. Soule says he spent days watching both events happening and it woke him up. This also inspired the name Chippewar.

"The name came out of being Chippewa and being a warrior and just playing with the words," he says.

He describes his art as non-traditional, inspired by pop art with a politically-charged and Indigenous twist.

This past summer, he released a series of stickers in the form of speech bubbles that could be tacked on to Canadian currency offering political commentary or actual quotes from the historical figures on the bills.

In the back of the store is the studio where Soule creates his paintings and also prints his shirts with a silkscreen press. (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC )

In the back of the shop is the studio space where Soule screen prints all of the shirts he sells with a silkscreen press. 

In the summer he takes his work on the road, joining the powwow trail. 

"Most of my support comes from the Indigenous community. I've spent a lot of time out there building up good relationships with people, especially other powwow vendors and dancers and singers and food vendors."

About the Author

Rhiannon Johnson

Rhiannon Johnson is an Anishinaabe journalist from Hiawatha First Nation in South-Central Ontario. She wants to contribute to turning the page on how Indigenous peoples are covered within Canadian media. Rhiannon is currently completing her master's degree in journalism at Ryerson University.